I Hope Bill Maher Doesn’t Kiss His Mother With That Mouth

I’m just now learning that when Bill Maher was in town Sunday at the Winspear, he dropped a C-bomb, the second-most dreaded ordnance in the English lexicon, surpassed in its explosive power only by the N-bomb. He was, of course, talking about Sarah Palin. Former Observer scribe Andrea Grimes didn’t think it was very funny. Me, I’m not offended. Just a bit shocked. But when I asked my officemates if they were aware that Maher had dropped the C-bomb, one of them (a lady) just looked at me with a bored face.

“He does that all the time,” she said. “It’s not really news.”

“Huh,” I said. “I guess I’m just a little surprised that he’s going around talking like that.”

She said, “For a racist, you sure are a prude.”


  • BigJonDaniel

    If Andrea is concerned about the power of gender stereotyping, she sure feels free to use the power of bare skin in her blog profile pic.


    C-word is not the same as N-word. Never has been, never will be.

  • Bob

    Actually, he used the “T” word, not the “C” word. You may wonder what the “T” word is. It’s close to “twit,” but not quite the same.

  • Well said Andrea. I don’t think she was making a point about gender stereotyping. She was criticizing Maher for using a gender based and demeaning insult.

    The women I know consider that word the equivalent of the N word.

    I lose respect for anyone using either word. There’s way too many insulting words you can use about Sarah Palin without that, which I think was another one of Andrea’s points.

  • yeah…um

    See 4:30, they bleeped it out but there are only 55 dislikes…

    What does this say about comedians using “the C-word”?


  • Maher can’t be a misogynist. He hates Bush.

  • Divinora

    This really isn’t news. The shock impact of the c-word is not what it used to be. Calling out the b*tch word is not that insulting anymore either. As a matter of fact, it’s become a bit of a compliment for some of us.

    The c-word is the new b-word.

  • Towski

    Isn’t that the definition of a misogynist?

    Thanks. Try the veal.

  • bc

    I’m sorry, but a well placed C-bomb can be more amusing than the constant stream of F-bombs so prevalent in comedy these days. C is the new F. I applaud it.

    And it’s definitely not the same as the N word.

  • Evelyn Beatrice Hall

    “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

  • i’m a woman. pretty liberal one. and i use the c-word like it’s going outta style. seriously, that word just doesn’t seem like a good reason to get your panties in a twist. neither is the t-word. and bill maher of all people? i kind of assumed the guy had the cuff links emblazoned with the c-word or a vanity plate with it.

  • James

    The only “c” here is Bill Maher… What a miserable human this guy is!

  • Andrea

    AmandaCobra – Generally speaking, I wouldn’t get my panties in a twist over a woman using the word. That’s the whole point of my post. Maher’s use is about privilege–yours would be about appropriation, which is a whole other (and to my mind, more interesting and valid) issue.

  • DGirl

    I’m all for snark and lively debate but I’m distraught at the vitriol and hatred that seems to be to ever more present in every element of our society. It’s pervasive in reality TV, gossip and talk shows, blogs and, as we saw in 2008 and 2010, rampant in politics. Why can’t we respectfully disagree without anger, name calling and verbal shoving? Bill Maher disgusts me and always has. So does Sarah Palin, as a matter of fact, and I’m a Republican. But, really, there are enough legitimate things to criticize about her – why name call?

  • EmilyMc

    I agree with Andrea. It doesn’t take someone with barely above average intelligence to call a woman a C-. It was easy and unimaginative.

  • TLS

    Bill Maher’s mother is dead so he flat out can’t kiss her at all. Good going, Tim.

  • You feel free to post the word fag*ot multiple times but are hesitant about using the “C” word. Inconsistent but understandable.

  • Aggrieved Male

    @Jack E. Jett:

    I agree with. All this faux sensitivity. Plus there is a definite double standard going on here. Women on this blog, Bethany included, have no problem saying that someone does or does not “have the balls” or “cojones” (as if saying it in a foreign language excuses it) to do something.

    There is also much too liberal a use of the words “d**k” and “pr**k,” which are no different than the C-word.

    Maybe we should just all pull our mouths out of the gutter on both genders.

  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

    Is Andrea Frank’s sister?

  • @Jack E. Jett: The context matters. The word “f*g” has been appropriating by a subculture, Anonymous, and used to create compound words that have very little connection to the original meaning of the word. Stop working so hard to be hurt, man.

    @TLS: I suppose his dad is dead, too?

  • TLS

    Yes, his dad is dead too. But Maher can kiss his girlfriend with that mouth. She is Karrine Steffans a.k.a. Superhead. And yes, she got that name exactly how you think she did.

  • @ Andrea

    But my point is that, as a woman, I don’t feel like that word has any more power than if Bill Maher calling me a “ninny” or a “broad” or a “hussy” or “lameass”. It’s hard for him to subjugate me with a word when the word carries little, if any, weight with me. I’m not appropriating it to take it back and render it powerless. It’s just a weak word to me and I really can’t imagine getting any more offended over it than any other generic diss. Bill Maher’s an ass but not for this reason.

  • Andrea

    @Amandacobra – and, notably, neither you nor I speak for Women.

  • @ andrea

    Agreed. I speak for no one but myself.

  • JB

    I wonder if there is anyone who has historical ancestors completely free of repression, historically marginalization, foul language or (insert bad human behavior here)? On the other hand, I defy someone to name one thing Bill Maher has ever done that can be considered meaningful?


    I was at the show and am a woman and was not offended when he made the reference to Palin. I’m surprised nobody is commenting on his reference to Palin’s son Trig.

    Maher couldn’t have been more entertaining — pure genius. The Winspear was packed and all seemed to enjoy the show.

  • qwerty

    Comment thread summary:

    “Bigoted slurs are only a problem if they’re applicable to men.”

  • You say a “very little connection” yet still a connection. After 35 years of fighting this crap, it does hurt. Again, show us what a big boy you are and show us multiple uses of the N word. It is from a culture? Or replace the comment in question with Jew. Or the C word (it is also part of a culture).

    Trust me, I know the word is used frequently. I am not going to stop you or anyone from using it. I just want to point out that to most (and I suspect most) gay people do not like the use of the word…..15 times in one post.

  • JB….One thing Maher did was to loose his gig on network TV because he questioned the reasons we were going into the Iraq war.

    Something perhaps we all should have done.
    Something perhaps we all should be doing now.

  • John M

    Can we all just agree that Palin is a narcissistic moron? As far as I am concerned the most misogynistic thing you can do in relation to Palin is use her as any sort of fair representative of women.

  • Voice of Reason

    Can’t we all just agree that Palin is, you know, pretty damn hot? If she weren’t, we would not be flogging this thread?

    Can’t we all just agree that Mr. Jett has a legitimate point? (Of course, “fag” is such a great word that I’ll hate to see it go. But we had to let go of the N-word, so all things must pass.)

    Can’t we all just agree that Amandacobra is right? The C-word is just a word without any magical power (other than what the c-thing itself has, which, of course, is powerful magic).

    Can’t we all just agree with Aggrieved Male that our discourse has coarsened? Let’s keep anatomical talk for the bedroom when we’re giving specific directions.

    Can’t we all just agree with Rodney King and please, for godsakes people, can’t we just get along?

    Can’t we all just agree with John Lennon that Woman is the N-ger of the World? (Kidding!)

  • tr

    @ John M — well said.

  • Lynn F.

    No, Andrea, what you’re doing is telling amandacobra, who says that Maher’s words are impotent and have no effect on her, that it is only she alone who doesn’t speak for all women, this after you have finished doing just that yourself, speaking not only for all women but for all men as well.

    In the blog post Tim linked you claim,

    “[C-word] is a gendered insult. Perhaps that’s obvious. Perhaps it’s less obvious that when an angry, American white male comedian chooses that word, he’s not a joker hilariously cracking on the politician Sarah Palin. He’s a man of power and privilege—performing for an audience of hundreds in the city’s newest, most beautiful performance space—calling on an ages-old story that reinforces his status and denigrates hers, not because she’s a crappy politician, but because she is female. When privileged white men call women [c-word]—especially when they play it off as easily as “there’s just no other word for her”—the audience hears this: those women may think they’ve got power, but with one word, I can remind them of generations, of hundreds of years, of violence perpetrated against women by men. The audience hears this: Bill Maher is so powerful and edgy awesome, he can use violently gendered insults against historically marginalized groups because again, powerfuledgyawesome. The audience hears this: Sarah Palin is not even a woman, she is a part of a woman that can and should belong to men who know better if they feel like they want it or deserve it.

    In a man like Bill Maher’s mouth, “[c-word]” isn’t a joke. It’s not even an insult. It’s a threat. I believe most Americans know that on some level, and I believe that’s why we don’t use the word casually.”

    Amandacobra personally finds Maher a comedian who has little effect on her. But you – and according to you speaking on their behalf in your post quoted above, the entire audience if not “most Americans” as well – find Maher the iconic representation of an entire peculiar historical world view of inter-sexual warfare that can somehow turn the C-word from a “gendered insult” into a “violently gendered insult” in one hysterical, evidence-free paragraph.

    There are worse things than naughty genital words, Andrea, one of the worst being the rankly disingenuous intellectual dishonesty of the sort you display here. That’s what really undermines women, Andrea, not some common vulgarity voiced by a pretentious, overrated clown.

  • Liz Landry

    Well said Lynn F.!!!! I believe, as with all things, context matters. Andrea has managed to jump on a bandwagon (and probably was rewarded with lots of hits and linking) with faux outrage. And, by calling her the C-word, I see it as Maher calling her on the currency she is trading every day. She goes on TV playing the no-nonsense-shooting-it-straight-mom and the why-does-every-one-pick-on-little-ole-me hot chick. She is actually the exact kind of woman that every other woman should condemn because every time she opens her mouth in a public forum (along with Bachman/Coulter, and those of that ilk) we, as women, drop a notch in our fight to be taken seriously. And, I’m sorry, but the C-word, especially in the context he used it, was not a violent insult or a threat. And, this faux outrage actually does more damage to our fight against the violence against women more than his use of that word every could. Obviously, Andrea has never been to the Vagina Monologues, because there is one titled Reclaiming C-word and it is amazing because a word doesn’t have power (which is what amandacobra said very eloquently) how we react to it, how we use it and who we are is where the power comes from.

  • Frank Ash

    Lynn F. expresses an important point. Bill Maher is using his power to denigrate women using “comedy” as a weapon. Using such personal attacks against people who do not agree with the politics of the speaker is wrong, no matter who is being smeared.

    I find it interesting that with so much political correctness being enforced for particular groups in our society, any members that stray from the “correct views” of the progressive ideology are subjected to the most vicious personal attacks from those who are suposedly so committed to diversity and civility.

    It surprises and saddens me that women’s groups do not support their own when such attacks occur. Showing indifference to such things because you use a word yourself will lead people like Maher feeling they can (increasingly) say anything they want to with impunity. If you want society to change for the better you must defend the rights of everyone to be respected, even those you don’t agree with (remember Voltaire?).

    Whatever your political beliefs, I challenge anyone reading this to show the courage that Sarah Palin has in standing for what she believes in while facing blind hatred and attacks from so many people and groups. As a man I greatly respect her courage, just as I respect the courage shown by the late Geraldie Ferraro.

  • StacyDallas

    A few points:

    1. Bill likes to stir the pot, obviously, and get people talking. Looks like it works.

    2. In person, he is incredibly kind and genuine.

    3. @TLS- Karrine Steffan was years ago!

  • B. L. Powell

    I’m more than mystified why many women allow such rhetoric to be lobbed at Sarah Palin, a conservative, but leap to new heights of outrage when Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton or any left-leaning, female figure is targeted. Do partisanship and unmitigated hatred cloud all standards of reasonableness and decorum? Why are only some women worth defending?

  • itspamelar

    holy mother. are we still talking about this?

  • John M

    @B. L. Powell

    Because Clinton and Pelosi are intelligent, well spoken women who have worked hard to earn their respect and their high profile positions that some people attack in misogynistic ways because they disagree with their well reasoned political ideologies while Palin is a narcissistic twit with no coherent political philosophy who quit the one position of political power she ever had because it was hard and she wanted to cash in on her fame and that we empirically know has no clue what she is talking about or she just lies with impunity.

    Palin is an insult to women who some people offensively hold in high regard.

  • Daniel

    So is a woman a misandrist (or whatever the hell it is ) for using the D-word*? Or is it just that women’s precious little ears are too sensitive to offend, but men can damn well suck it up? Can’t have it both ways, lassies. Not that most gals commenting here seem to want to.

    This a tempest in a teapot without the tempest. (For the record, I don’t use the C-word, just because I’m fairly nice and I’d rather not be misunderstood as a hateful misogynist by people like Andrea — not because I actually believe using that word makes you one. Sometimes a C is just a C.)

    * Daniel, of course. Women usually sound really pissed off whenever they say it.

  • B. L. Powell

    @John M

    Thanks for your insights, John. As a matter of principle, I believe human beings deserve respect regardless of political ideology (or lack thereof). You may loathe Sarah Palin ( I suspect you do, but will grant the benefit of the doubt), but is she not a woman and a mother? The Women’s Liberation movement sought to elevate all women. Now, it seems the only women being elevated are those who support a particular point of view. Those who hold beliefs counter to that view are thought of as backward, subservient, unintelligent, and weak.

    So I renew my question: if the Women’s Lib movement is to be considered successful and relevant today, are not all women worth defending because they are women?

  • SLR

    And sometimes a cigar is just a cigar (except when Bill Clinton is operating it).

  • Daniel


    I’m not necessarily defending Maher, but what does Palin’s being a woman and a mother have to do with anything? That sounds a lot like the condescending put-a-woman-on-a-pedestal chivalry of yore.

    A. Grimes’ objection is that the word is an act of violence. I mostly disagree, but her position is coherent and tenable. Your assertion that women’s lib (last time I heard that phrase, the Bee Gees topped the charts) should have led to the categorical “elevation” of women/mothers is way off the mark.

    Sarah Palin is a public figure and does not deserve respect by default, any more than Barack Obama does. That’s equality. The question is, is the C-word a kind of N-word — unutterable for its conjuring of historical oppression? I say no, but why “go there” if it offends so many people? Or more precisely, if you set out to offend people, can’t you put a little more effort into it than that?

  • Paul

    I guess I just don’t get it. Bill using the C word should really come as no surprise – it is hardly something new or newsworthy. If someone went to his show and was shocked and offended by it perhaps they should have researched the type of show they were going to before hand. His brand of political humor is not meant for children or those with thin skin.

  • mendy

    it seems bill has a deep seated hatred and no respect towards women. this is very disturbing i can only gather from this that maybe his father treated his mother like dirt and he was the boss of the house.or on the other hand maybe the mother ran around seeing men and leaving bill alone.what ever is in his brain is twisted he is a sicko!